Here is a little story about Miles in the White House! The excerpt is taken from Miles Davis’s
autobiography (Miles, the autobiography)
Cicely Tyson was invited to the White House for a party in which they’ll award Ray Charles with a Lifetime Achievement Award. Cicely also invited her husband, Miles Davis, to this party. Miles had decided to attend this party in a unique outfit. He dressed a hip and a long black waistcoat with tails which was made for him by a Japanese designer. There were about ten black people in the party and Miles felt like everyone was disturbed by his outfit.
At the table where Miles sat, a politician’s wife asked Miles a question about jazz. She asked, “Are we supporting this art form just because it’s from here in this country, and is it art in its truest form, or are we just being blase and ignoring jazz because it comes from here and not from Europe, and it comes from black people?” Our followers who are familiar with Miles can clearly imagine Miles’ reaction here. Miles found this question absurd and silly. He thought the woman asking the question was just trying to sound intelligent next to him.
He said, “What is it? Jazz time or something? Why you ask me some shit like that?”. Then the woman answered “Well, you’re a jazz musician, aren’t you?” Then he said, “I’m a musician, that’s all.” “Well, then, you’re a musician, you play music …” “Do you really want to know why jazz music isn’t given the credit in this country?”
She said, “Yes, I do.”
Miles answered, “jazz is ignored here because the white man likes to win everything. White people like to see other white people win just like you do and they can’t win when it comes to jazz and the blues because black people created this. And so when we play in Europe, white people over there appreciate us because they know who did what and they will admit it. But most white Americans won’t.”
She looked at Miles and turned red. She asked, “Well, what have you done that’s so important in your life? Why are you here?”
Miles was now furious. His answer was worth pointing out: “Well, I’ve changed music five or six times, so I guess that’s what I’ve done and I guess I don’t believe in playing just white compositions. Now, tell me what have you done of any importance other than be white, and that ain’t important to me, so tell me what your claim to fame is”